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Composer Manuel Krusy from The Bitfather told 80.lv about the development of Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic – a new indie-game, which is launching on Steam this week. Learn how a small team of 3 managed to make a sleek pixel-art RPG in 320×240 resolution.
Our studio is based in Nettetal, Germany. Actually there are only three developers: Tom Hirsch (lead designer / sound effects), Christian Schulz (programmer) & Manuel Krusy (composer). Pixel Heroes is our first game we are developing as a team but we have worked on a few projects together before. Although the studio is based in Nettetal, we all are working from our home-offices in Nettetal, Bochum and Hattingen. In the last two years we had only a few personal meetings to discuss some important milestones. The rest of our communication went over hundreds (or maybe thousand) of e-mails and messages on our cellphones.
The History of Pixel Heroes
Pixel Heroes started in January 2013. The project was initialized by Tom Hirsch who came up with the idea. The main concept was a retro dungeon crawler. We wanted to create a game that we would love to play. We sat together and developed the basic ideas on our first meeting and then we immediately started to work. The game was available for a while on Desura. It was an exclusive open beta. We needed feedback from the community so we made the beta available to the public and it got much more popular than we had imagined.
Although the beta was free, Pixel Heroes was always meant to be premiuim. The free version we started on Desura was missing a lot of features and content. The intention of the beta was to see what the players liked most and were we still needed to improve or fix bugs. The final release will be a fully-featured game with more than twice the content of the beta.
Moderns developers are part of the generation who played the original pixel-art games. And now they are hit by nostalgia and develop these retro games. It is not because they have no skills in making better graphics but because they really love it. Same counts for many players. It is a tribute to the beginning of video games.
There is also a group of people who despise this retro pixel art style. But it all comes down to a matter of personal taste. Some prefer 2D over 3D and some prefer Nathan Drake over Mario.
320 X 240
Ah yes, the good old cluttered interface. It surely isn’t easy to fit a whole character management and inventory screen on 320×240 pixels (which is our games native resolution) so we had to use every space there was to maximize efficiency while still maintaining the coolness of having a pentagram for the character stats. Christian still hates Tom for insisting on having this big pentagram that uses a lot of precious space. The Unity engine was the perfect technology for us to develop for all the different platforms. It fits all our needs and enabled us to do everything we wanted.
Nostalgia On Video
We always thought about doing a real “making of Pixel Heroes” video. As we developed the idea for a trailer we wanted to do something beside the classic in-game trailer videos. Particularly our publisher Headup Games inspired us to do something “special”. So in the end we mixed the idea of a making of and the nostalgia part that is the base for Pixel Heroes.
Working With a Publisher
Headup Games was a big help for us. Their team has a huge experience in gaming business and they told us what we needed for good marketing. Also they put in a lot of work on their own to give us the best support.
Working Without a Budget
There was no real production budget for developing Pixel Heroes. We did the complete production on our own during our free time. We started the project as a hobby and not as a business.
We are not sure how much time we spent into making the game, but it was worth it nonetheless. We started making this game out of love and while we do hope to get some profit out of it, it would be much more important for us that there are actual people out there enjoying our game.
Right now we have no plans for the future. We want to focus on the development of Pixel Heroes and then we’ll see what we will do.We will first get a nervous breakdown waiting for the release of Pixel Heroes, then we are going to make games until we die.
Manuel Krusy, The Bitfather
You will be able to purchase Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic on Steam on February 6.